Sunday 22 September 2019

666 years in the making, is this Ireland's most haunted house?

Loftus Hall's devil in the detail

Loftus Hall at Halloween.
Loftus Hall at Halloween.
Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford. Photo: Alan Boland
The Irish Ghost Hunters Team at Loftus Hall.
The photograph taken at Loftus Hall by English visitor Thomas Beavis, showing what is believed to be a ghostly apparition at the right-hand side
The infamous hole in the roof at Loftus Hall, photographed by Pól Ó Conghaile in 2013.
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Earlier this year, a group of paranormal investigators claimed to have encountered "major temperature drops" and electro-magnetic field spikes at a house said to be Ireland's most haunted.

Irish Ghost Hunters (IGH) visited Loftus Hall on Wexford's Hook Peninsula to carry out several paranormal investigations this March.

The spectre-seekers found "major temperature drops" as well as "significant spikes" in electro-magnetic fields (EMF) in some areas of the house, they say.

"Our team is scientific, we don't work with psychics or mediums," Tina Barcoe, Location Manager and Lead Investigator with IGH, told Independent Travel.

"We go in with our equipment and try to debunk everything before we say it is paranormal. But there were things that happened at Loftus that we just couldn't debunk."

Those things included mysterious footsteps, readings indicating "an energy source" close by, and responses on a K2 meter (EMF) "which seemed to be in connection to our questions,” Barcoe says.

“Our investigation left us with more questions than answers."

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Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford. Photo: Alan Boland

Loftus Hall. Photo: Alan Boland

Of course you might say that such reports are coincidences, unverifiable, impossible to replicate - or just plain hogwash.

But they still make a good story.

Loftus Hall cuts a desolate dash on the Hook Peninsula. And somewhat creepily, there is said to have been a dwelling on the site since 1350 - almost 666 years.

Its most chilling story concerns a dark stranger who called to the mansion one foggy night in 1765.

Lost on the Hook, the stranger was invited into the then-Tottenham household, and soon found himself playing cards and making an impression on a daughter of the house, Anne Tottenham.

As the stakes grew higher, Anne dropped her cards onto the floor. Dipping down to recover her hand, she saw that the stranger had a cloven hoof.

Unmasked as the devil, the stranger is said to have bolted through the roof in a ball of fire.

loftus hall roof.jpg
The infamous hole in the roof at Loftus Hall, photographed by Pól Ó Conghaile in 2013.

The roof at Loftus Hall. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

"The very same roof has been irreparable ever since," says Aidan Quigley, owner of Loftus Hall.

Quigley, who acquired the house in 2011 and has been developing it into a visitor attraction on the Hook Peninsula since, revealed the Irish Ghost Hunters' findings in advance of its seasonal re-opening for 2015 - so there's assuredly a hint of theatrics behind the latest tales of terror.

Loftus Hall has its sceptics, and other buildings (such as Leap Castle, for instance) vie with it for the title of Ireland's most haunted, but it continues to throw up crashes and bumps in the night.

Last year, it hit the international headlines when tourist Thomas Beavis, 21, snapped what appeared to be a ghostly apparition (below) in a window of the Hall.

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The photograph taken at Loftus Hall by English visitor Thomas Beavis, showing what is believed to be a ghostly apparition at the right-hand side

The ghostly 'apparition' photographed in 2014

The figure, claimed to be that of Anne Tottenham, quickly went viral.

"I zoomed in to find this girl in the window," Beavis later said.

"I had to take some time before I showed it to everyone just because I didn't really understand what I was looking at."

Sceptics might wonder why the face of the 'ghost' appears sharper than the girl in the pink top, whether it's a reflection, or just call it a hoax.

Quigley insists, however, that he and his team continue to notice "strange goings-on... such as light bulbs not working and frosty temperature drops in certain areas of the house."

So is it, or isn't it, Ireland's most haunted?

You can judge for yourself on a guided tour (loftushall.ie; €10/€5pp).

Daytime tours are suitable for kids - at parents' discretion, of course - although tours taking place after nightfall (€15pp) are adult-only.

Read more:

Loftus Hall 'ghost' photo sensation 

Diving the Hook: Wexford's underwater wonderland 10 great reasons to visit Wexford

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